Awards & Engraving

June '16

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22 • A&E JUNE 2016 LASER ENGRAVING APPLICATIONS Laser Engraving $40 to $50 in materials and takes a few hours to complete. Detailed instructions for making Sturlev's laser can be found on www.instruc- by searching "laser cutting tables - the better version". Sturlev uses some aluminum tubing along with metal wire. Because of its high melting point of 1,400 degrees Celsius, Sturlev choose to use Kanthal wire. The entire contraption is held together using a few inexpensive rods. The metal wire is then suspended between the two aluminum tubes, giving it rigidity and strength. When asked whether Sturlev had any other suggestions or thoughts regarding how to make your own laser cutting table, he simply responded, "Measure, measure, measure." I have heard of laser operators using fluorescent light grids as a simple laser cutting table. Because many of these light grids are made out of a flammable plastic, you run a higher risk of causing damage to your product and your laser. Lighting grids made out of aluminum are available but are more expensive and difficult to find. Laser operators have even resorted to making laser cutting tables out of old car radiators due to their inherent metal honeycomb pattern. Some laser operators have even used the thin metal gyp-rock or plasterboard framing components. They take the thin metal U channel extrusion and screw it onto a base. This type of laser bed resembles a blade system. Greg Leaman of Leaman & Co. in St. John's, Newfoundland, cre- ated a pin style laser cutting table using nothing but a piece of MDF board and several bolts. He used his laser to mark the location of the holes, ensuring accuracy and even distribution of the bolts. Upon examination, you can see that, over time, the laser beam can still laser mark the base of the laser cutting table. Koser reminds users that "cutting tables or supports must be 100 percent nonflammable." CLEAN UP AND REMINDERS Regardless of how minimally your intended substrate is in con- tact with the laser cutting table, you will be left with some residue from your laser cutting projects. Minchau suggests, "To clean a (laser cutting) grid fouled with wood, use dish soap and water and soak (the cutting table) overnight in a large tub. To clean a plastic-covered grid, use Toluene (or similar solvents)." Koser also reminds us that you should never do any unattended laser cutting, as the risk of a small flame or fire increases when laser cutting. "I have customers every year calling to order parts, or new machines, after turning their lasers into a BBQ," he says. Additionally, laser cutting tables can sag over time, so it is impor- tant that you only use the laser cutting table when laser cutting as heavy objects can cause the table to warp over time. Minchau also suggests that you store your laser cutting table in a spot where it will not be tampered with and remain flat. Creativity can be found in numerous ways when you laser engrave. But when you laser cut, your ingenuity can help obtain a better cut. You might even be creative enough to manufacture your own laser cutting table. It has been said several times before, but allow me to repeat the saying: "Laser engravers... you are a crafty bunch of people." Richard Korbyl manages the family business, Columbia Awards, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He has been involved with the awards industry for over 20 years. If you have any questions or comments, contact Richard at 1-780-438-3266 or A&E IMAGES COURTESY RICHARD KORBYL By using simple bolts, you can create a homemade version of a pin style laser cutting table, which allows your object to rest and allows adequate air flow underneath. By using flammable materials such as MDF wood (shown in the photo below), you could cause further risk to your laser and operator.

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